Cllr Ashley Bowes
This week Woking Borough Council gave approval for the establishment of a Neighbourhood Forum in Pyrford. Under the Localism Act, communities have been given the power to have a greater say in the planning process by preparing a Neighbourhood Plan and specifying what kind of development they would like to see in their area. Once a Neighbourhood Plan has been adopted, it becomes part of the statutory development process and must be referred to and taken into account in all planning decisions taken within that community.
The first step in drawing up a Neighbourhood Plan is the establishment of a Neighbourhood Forum. An application for a Pyrford Neighbourhood Forum was submitted to the council in November. Following a public consultation and engagement with residents, the application was approved by councillors on Thursday after minimal debate and no objections. A Neighbourhood Forum was also approved for Byfleet at the same meeting.
This is a great opportunity for Pyrford residents to have a much bigger say in the planing decisions that affect their lives, and recognition must be given to the organisers and officers of the Neighbourhood Forum which is one of the first in the country to take advantage of the new powers devolved down to communities through the Localism Act. Special acknowledgement should also be given to Cllr Ashley Bowes, the council’s planning portfolio holder and ward councillor for Pyrford, who expertly took the proposal through Full Council and whose legal expertise and in depth knowledge of the minutiae of planning policy will no doubt be of immense value to the Neighbourhood Forum in drawing up their plan.
Once a Neighbourhood Plan has been drawn up by the forum it will be subjected to an examination to ensure that it complies with national planning policy as well as the development plan for the borough set out in the Core Strategy, before residents are given the final say in a referendum.